Stocks: Investors step back ahead of earnings

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Investors are bracing for another batch of quarterly earnings Wednesday, as the Dow and S&P 500 hover below all-time highs.

U.S. stock futures were slightly lower ahead of the opening bell.

CNNMoney parent Time Warner (TWX) posted better-than-expected earnings, sending shares 4% higher in premarket trading. The media conglomerate also announced it will raise its dividend by 11% to 28.75 cents a share.

Shares of Irish neuroscience biotech company Elan (ELN) rose nearly 4% after the company reported strong earnings and said it would pay $3.25 billion to end its collaboration with Biogen Indec (BIIB).

Expedia (EXPE) shares gained more than 1%, a day after the online travel site posted strong results, helped by higher hotel bookings.

Investors are starting to worry about the latest phone launch from BlackBerry (BBRY), formerly known as Research in Motion. News outlets reported short or nonexistent lines Tuesday at stores in the phone maker's home country of Canada.

Michael Dell's journey to take back Dell
Michael Dell's journey to take back Dell

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) shares continued to rally in premarket trading for a second day, following its publicly stated threat to steal customers away from Dell (DELL), which announced plans to go private.

News Corp. (NWSA), Yelp (YELP) and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR)s are up after the bell.

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Disney (DIS) shares rose more than 3% in premarket trading, a day after the media company reported earnings and revenues that beat analysts' forecasts.

Zynga's (ZNGA) results also came in ahead of forecasts late Tuesday, sending the shares up 7% in premarket trading Wednesday morning.

U.S. stocks finished higher Tuesday on the strength of solid corporate results.

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Markets in Asia were led higher by the Nikkei, which surged 3.8% and closed at its highest level since 2008 on hopes that the yen will continue to weaken.

The rally was helped by news that Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa will step down from his post sooner than expected. The country's central bank has been under intense political pressure to engage in further monetary easing. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite added 0.1% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.5%.

European markets were mixed in morning trading on Wednesday. Steel giant ArcelorMittal (AMSYF)reported it was seeing "positive indicators," despite the fragility of the European economy and operating profit should rise in 2013.

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